Review Category : National News

How Other Survivalists Eluded Police Capture

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The Pennsylvania man accused of shooting two state troopers and slipping away into the woods is the latest fugitive survivalist to dodge capture by fleeing into the wilderness and surviving on the land.

It sometimes takes years to find fugitives who are accomplished outdoorsmen.

Convicted murderer Eric Rudolph famously evaded authorities for five years while hiding out in North Carolina mountains before he was captured in 2003. Cherokee County Sheriff Keith Lovin remembers the day Rudolph, charged with the 1996 Olympic park bombing in Atlanta and another blast at an Alabama abortion clinic, was cornered outside a grocery store in Murphy.

“He could have been foraging for supplies,” Lovin said. “That’s part of being a survivalist — taking advantage of what resources you have and knowing where to look for them.”

Rudolph, who is serving a life sentence, survived by sleeping in abandoned houses and summer homes.

“We have a lot of summer homes that are vacant for a good amount of time, and a lot of homes that are for sale,” Lovin said. “You can go in and get out of the weather for a day or two — particularly if that home is out of the way.”

Lovin suspects the situation is similar in the Pocono Mountains of eastern Pennsylvania, where a massive manhunt is under way for suspect Eric Frein, accused of ambushing two state troopers at the Blooming Grove police barracks on Sept. 12, killing one officer and critically injuring another.

But he points out that Rudolph’s situation was unique because he believes the criminal got help while he was on the lam.

“While it is one thing to be able to go into the wild and live off land and camp, it’s entirely different when you have associates or friends who are willing to assist you,” Lovin said.

Other residents of the southern mountain town might have offered food or help unknowingly, thinking Rudolph was “a homeless person, or someone down on his luck,” Lovin added.

Last year, police arrested Troy James Knapp, known as the “Mountain Man,” in the woods in Utah, where he had lived on the run for six years, sleeping in a tent and killing wild animals for food.

Knapp was wanted for a string of cabin burglaries around Sevier County. He survived the cold winters by breaking into snowbound homes and sleeping in the owners’ beds while they were away, authorities said, sometimes leaving behind threatening notes, like “Get off my mountain,” and one time a message to police: “Gonna put you in the ground.”

He drank their whiskey and stole their guns before retreating to the woods with high-end camping gear. Knapp, 46, pleaded guilty in June under an agreement that will likely put him in prison until 2024.

Yet another fugitive who lived off the land while running from police is Jason McVean, accused with two other men of killing a Colorado police officer in 1998. His remains were found in 2007 in southeastern Utah, along with a bulletproof vest, camouflage backpack, pipe bombs, an AK-47 and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

The bodies of his alleged accomplices, Alan Pilon and Robert Mason, were found years earlier.

And Robert Fisher, an Arizona man accused of murdering his family before setting their home on fire, has been missing ever since his alleged crime in 2001. The FBI for a while considered that sightings of a man who turned out to be Knapp might be Fisher, described by authorities as a survivalist and skilled hunter and outdoorsman.

There have been many reported sightings of Fisher, but he hasn’t been found.

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Long-Lost High School Sweethearts Marry 63 Years Later

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Some love stories move slower than others — like 63 years slow. That’s how long it took for high school sweethearts Marcella and Johnny Vick — who live in Arkansas — to tie the knot.

The two first met in 1950 at a ballgame and dated for a year before drifting apart.

Marcella, 79, went on to marry for 39 years and have three daughters. Vick, 80, married another woman with whom he had two daughters and two sons.

Both of their spouses passed away, and after reconnecting a few years back at an area reunion, the Vicks went on an official date this past June.

“We spent the day together, and we’ve gone from there and picked up where we left off when we were teenagers,” Marcella told ABC News. “I think at the very beginning we realized when we saw each other that we cared very much for each other. At our age now we were kind of hesitant at first but we realized a few weeks in that we were in love and wanted to get married.”

And so they did on Saturday in front of family and friends who all created pages for a big family scrapbook.

“It was wonderful! We didn’t really know his family, but we asked everybody to do a scrapbook page and have pictures of themselves and their family and some information about each other,” Sheila McCall, Marcella’s daughter, told ABC News. “We stored that all around the reception hall so everybody could see something about the others.”

It was a total family affair, with McCall’s son performing the ceremony and her granddaughter singing Rod Stewart’s “Have I Told You Lately.” Both Johnny and Marcella’s high school friends were in attendance.

McCall remembers hearing about Johnny her entire life.

“Mom had a wooden box that she had from the days when she was a teenager, and his name was in that box. She wrote in it in pencil. I’ve seen his name and heard about him my whole life,” she said. “This has all been a whirlwind! They’re acting like teenagers and so in love. Obviously they had a great connection even back then, and all they did was renew it.”

The nuptials were also a long time coming for Johnny, who told ABC News that though he and Marcella never tried to get in touch over the years, he “always thought she was kind of special.”

Marcella credits a shared background to their special bond.

“I think we value the same things in life. We both go to church, and he’s got a family he’s very close to and I have a family I’m very close to, and those are the things I value in him more than anything,” she said.

Johnny and Marcella plan to split their time between their two houses.

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Wife of Man Charged in Son’s ‘Hot Car’ Death Passed Polygraph: Sources

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Leanna Harris, the wife of the Georgia man indicted after his toddler son died in a hot car this summer, has passed a lie detector test, sources have told ABC News.

Justin Ross Harris is accused of leaving his 22-month-old son, Cooper, in his vehicle on June 18 “with malice aforethought” and causing the boy “cruel and excessive physical pain,” according to an indictment earlier this month.

Officials have said Harris wanted to live a child-free life. Harris has pleaded not guilty.

Cooper’s mother, Leanna Harris, has not been charged in her son’s death, and in an interview that aired on ABC News’ Good Morning America Monday, her friend, Angie Bond, came to her defense, saying she had nothing to hide.

“She had absolutely nothing to do with the accident at all,” Bond told ABC News’ Amy Robach.

When Robach asked Bond what she wanted people to know about Leanna Harris, she replied: “That she loves her little boy desperately, and she misses her little boy desperately. And that will never change. That she stands by her husband.”

Although Leanna Harris had not been charged, her behavior had been questioned by authorities. A detective has testified in court that she displayed no reaction when she was notified that her son had died. The detective also testified that employees at the day care center said that when Leanna Harris went to pick up her son and was told her husband hadn’t dropped Cooper off that morning, she said her husband “must have left him in the car.”

The officer also said he overheard a phone call between Leanna Harris and her distraught mother in which the mother asked her daughter why she wasn’t crying. Her daughter replied: “I must be in shock.”

Leanna Harris has been present at her husband’s court appearances and has described him as a loving father who wouldn’t knowingly hurt their son.

Bond agreed that Justin Ross Harris was devoted to his son.

“He absolutely adored Cooper,” Bond said. “He was a very hands-on father — always playing with him.”

Speculation ran rampant over reports that Leanna had asked her husband after his arrest: “Did you say too much?”

Bond says there’s an easy explanation for that.

“Knowing Ross it was, in my mind, all it was she was just saying, ‘Did you run your mouth? Did you make yourself look guilty? Did you talk so much that you made yourself look guilty?’ Because he is most definitely a talker,” Bond said.

Harris was indicted earlier this month on charges accusing him of deliberately leaving Cooper in a hot car that was parked outside of the Home Depot where he worked. Cooper spent nearly seven hours in the car on the 90-degree day and died there, all while his father was at work and sexting multiple women, police allege.

The last few months have been hard on the Harris’ marriage, Bond said.

“It’s been difficult. It’s been rocky,” Bond said “But through it all, they always wanted to work through things…”

Bond also said her friend has never expressed doubt about her husband’s actions or anger over what happened.

“Not doubt. And not anger over the accident,” Bond said, adding: “She knows how much Ross loves Cooper.”

Police have said that just days before his son’s death, Justin Ross Harris watched videos warning of the dangers of leaving children inside hot cars.

When Robach asked Bond how she reacted to that allegation, Bond said her friend’s husband was a curious man.

“The Ross that I know is always on the computer, always searching for new things, always checking things out,” she said. “And if these things are true, it’s in my opinion it would be something that he saw and he just kind of clicked on a link, or he heard about it and was curious about it.”

Justin Ross Harris has been charged with malice murder, two counts of felony murder, cruelty to children in the first and second degree, criminal attempt to commit a felony and two counts of dissemination of harmful material to minors.

He could face the death penalty if he’s convicted. Bond said his wife is prepared for that.

“There are some things that she can’t think too much on and focus too much on,” Bond said when Robach asked her how her friend was coping with that knowledge. “And when she starts, that’s when she start — the anxiety starts, the — just the intense fear. And so we just, kind of, try to take it one day at a time.”

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Hannah Graham Searchers Return to Jesse Matthew’s Apartment

Charlottesville Police Department(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) — A new warrant was issued Monday to carry out a second search of the apartment belonging to a man who police say was the last person to be seen with missing University of Virginia student Hannah Graham.

Charlottesville police carrying out the search were seen Monday at the apartment of Jesse Matthew.

Matthew, 32, has been described by Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo as the last person who was seen with Graham, an 18-year-old sophomore at the school who vanished more than a week ago.

Matthew is not charged in connection with Graham’s disappearance, but after speeding away from a police station on Sunday, cops issued a warrant for his arrest for dangerous driving.

According to public records, Matthew was involved in 22 incidents between 1999 and 2007, the majority of which were related to some kind of traffic violations ranging from failure to wear a seatbelt to failure to yield or obey stop signs. He was found guilty in six of those incidents, guilty in absentia in nine cases, prepaid dismissal in five, not guilty or acquitted in one and got an undetermined verdict in another.

Matthew’s car, a burnt orange 1998 Chrysler coupe, has been seized by police. Police have also previously searched Matthew’s apartment and served a search warrant for his phone.

The last images of Graham were caught on store surveillance cameras, which police said show the student with Matthew, described by police as being 6-foot-2, 270 pounds and with dreadlocks. Graham and a man police say was Matthew were recorded by surveillance cameras as they entered and left two establishments.

“I believe Jesse Matthew was the last person she was seen with Hannah before she vanished off the face of the Earth because it’s been a week and we can’t find her,” Longo said.

The chief has reiterated that police are not calling Matthew a suspect, just someone who could have useful information about what happened to Graham.

Matthew has updated his Facebook profile and replaced his profile picture with a blacked-out square. There are no other personal posts on the page.

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Ferguson-Inspired Course Teaches Cops to ‘Win with the Media’

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(ST. LOUIS) — A media relations course citing the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, as a “case study” is being offered for St. Louis law enforcement.

The “continuing education” course, called “Officer-Involved Shooting — You Can Win With The Media,” is scheduled for Oct. 24 through the St. Louis County and Municipal Police Academy.

A flier for the course touts the benefits of understanding how to deal with media when it comes to fielding questions about officer-involved shootings.

“In addition to the Ferguson case study, this fast-paced class is jam-packed with the essential strategies and tactics, skills and techniques that will help you WIN WITH THE MEDIA! It is practical training, not theoretical,” the flier reads.

The police academy holds similar media relations courses as part of its ongoing education offerings “pretty much annually,” Lt. Matt O’Niell told ABC News.

The updated course overview, however, notes a number of recent shootings, including “Managing the Media When Things Get Ugly (think Ferguson)” and ‘”Managing the Media in a Crisis (including lessons learned from the Newton, CT school shooting).”

The timing of the course and the repeated mentions of the handling of the Ferguson case come as no coincidence, O’Niell said. “It had a lot to do with it,” he said.

“We make mistakes all the time. We learn from our mistakes,” O’Niell said. “Obviously, there’s a community relations issue and this plays into it.”

The course will be taught by public relations consultant Rick Rosenthal, who is contracted out by the police academy for the day-long event that will include up to 80 participants.

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Second Michael Dunn Murder Trial Begins in Florida

iStock/Thinkstock(JACKSONVILLE, Fla.) — A second trial for loud-music shooter Michael Dunn begins Monday in Florida.

Back in February, jurors found the Florida software developer, who was accused of shooting 17-year-old Jordan Davis to death after he asked the teen and his friends to turn down their music, guilty of attempted murder and firing a gun into a car. But they could not agree on whether Dunn was guilty of murder.

Dunn maintains he feared for his life the night of Nov. 23, 2012, when he opened fire on the teens in a Jacksonville convenience store parking lot.

He will be retried on a first-degree murder charge in Davis’ death.

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Second Michael Dunn Murder Trial Begins in Florida

iStock/Thinkstock(JACKSONVILLE, Fla.) — A second trial for loud-music shooter Michael Dunn begins Monday in Florida.

Back in February, jurors found the Florida software developer, who was accused of shooting 17-year-old Jordan Davis to death after he asked the teen and his friends to turn down their music, guilty of attempted murder and firing a gun into a car. But they could not agree on whether Dunn was guilty of murder.

Dunn maintains he feared for his life the night of Nov. 23, 2012, when he opened fire on the teens in a Jacksonville convenience store parking lot.

He will be retried on a first-degree murder charge in Davis’ death.

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Police ‘Close’ to Accused Cop Shooter Eric Frein

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation(CANADENSIS, Pa.) — A police dragnet through the woods of Pennsylvania has narrowed for the suspect in the shooting of two state troopers thanks to some “very credible” tips, police said at a press conference Monday.

“I do believe that we are close to him at this point,” State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens said.

Bivens said they are focused on the northern end of Monroe County, near the border of Pike County in eastern Pennsylvania, not far from where suspect Eric Frein is accused of ambushing the Blooming Grove police barracks Sept. 12, killing one officer and critically injuring another.

“We’re following up on tips, we believe they’re very credible. And yes, there is a lot of police activity. It’s been ongoing throughout the night,” Bivens said.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, also at the press conference, said that Frein’s issue is with police, not civilians.

“He had the opportunity to shoot civilians at the Blooming Grove barracks at the same time that he shot the police officer… and he chose not to shoot them,” Corbett said.

Officials Sunday found a Kalashnikov-style rifle and two AK-47 clips in the dense Pennsylvania forest near the barracks where Eric Frein allegedly killed Cpl. Bryon Dickson, 38, and critically wounded Trooper Alex Douglass.

“We are pushing him hard, he is no longer safe and I am confident that he will be apprehended,” State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens said in a news conference Sunday. “Both dogs and human trackers are getting indications that we are on the right trail.”

Bivens said trackers discovered the items Frein hid or abandoned in the woods they believe he had been carrying while on the run. Authorities did not yet know whether the recovered weapon had been used in the Sept. 12 ambush at the state police barracks.

Bivens said Frein, who has since been placed on the FBI’s Most Wanted List, had been planning a confrontation with law enforcement for months, if not years.

“We know that Frein has prepared and planned extensively for months, and maybe years,” Bivens said. “He planned his attack and his retreat.”

Police say they have not seen the 31-year-old self-described survivalist, but hundreds of officers are chasing every possible lead.

Roman Kamensky, who used to perform military re-enactments with Frein, says he may be thinking like a solider at war.

“If he wants to kill more cops he’s probably waiting for them to walk into his kill box,” Kamensky said.

Police reiterated Sunday they believe Frein isn’t after civilians and have since lifted a shelter-in-place order for thousands of residents in the area. Residents are still being told to stay alert and avoid wooded areas.

“The suspect is still considered armed and dangerous,” Bivens said. “We ask and remind residents to lock all doors as well as their vehicles. At night, keep the exterior of their homes well lit.”

Residents in the area are keeping track of the manhunt by listening to police scanners.

The search is focusing on a several-square-mile area on the border of Pike and Monroe counties around the nearby village where Frein grew up, Bivens said.

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Report: Ray Rice Suspension Appeal Will Claim Videotape Edited

Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Ray Rice is appealing his indefinite suspension by the NFL, and sources tell ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter the former Baltimore Ravens running back will argue that the league extended his punishment on the basis of an edited videotape.

According to the ESPN report, legal sources have told Schefter that the TMZ tape of Rice hitting his then-fiancée was a condensed version of the events that took place in the Atlantic City casino elevator last February.

Sources say Robert Mueller, the former FBI director who has been appointed by the NFL to investigate the league’s handling of the Rice case, is expected to have access to the contents of the full elevator security video, not just the edited version.

Rice was originally handed a two-game suspension for his domestic violence case. After TMZ released the videotape on September 8, the two-game ban drew widespread criticism of the NFL’s policy on domestic violence, prompting the Ravens to release Rice and the league to suspend him indefinitely.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell admitted he didn’t get the suspension right and later instituted a new domestic violence policy that includes a six-game suspension for a first offense and a lifetime ban for a second offense.

According to ESPN’s Outside the Lines, several Ravens executives had a detailed account of the elevator incident hours after it took place and “began extensive public and private campaigns pushing for leniency” for Rice on several fronts, including the judicial system in Atlantic County, New Jersey, where Rice faced assault charges, and Commissioner Goodell. According to Outside the Lines, others in the Ravens organization, however, argued “immediately after the incident that Rice should be released.”

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Three Afghan Military Officers Go Missing in US

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Three Afghan national army officers have gone missing while in the United States for a joint military training exercise at Joint Base Cape Cod, U.S. military and law enforcement officials said.

They arrived in the country on Sept. 11, and were reported missing by base security personnel late Saturday. They were last seen at the Cape Cod Mall in Hyannis, Mass.

A Centcom official told ABC News there is no indication that the Afghan men reported missing pose any threat to the public. Officials said all the Afghan military personnel were fully vetted before they arrived.

Base and local police and state authorities are working together to locate the three Afghans. There are still approximately a dozen Afghan soldiers still participating in the exercise, which ends Sep. 24.

A National Guard spokesman told ABC News that officials are trying to piece together the missing Afghanistan National Army senior officers’ movements.

“It’s tough to say what they were doing at the mall. We are gathering all of the information we can on the officers’ now,” spokesman James Sahady said.

Massachusetts State Police spokesman David Procopio said the investigation is being run by the FBI and the Department of Justice, but Massachusetts state troopers are assisting in “putting the word out” and searching the area around Camp Edwards.

The three officers were participating in Central Command’s Regional Cooperation exercise, an annual command-post exercise. This year’s exercise runs Sept. 17-24 and includes representatives from five different nations and more than 200 participants.

Just last weekend, two Afghan policemen in Washington, D.C., for a DEA training program at Quantico, Va., also went missing while on a sightseeing trip to Georgetown.

The two men, who were part of a group of 31 Afghan police officers in the U.S. for the multi-week program, were found safe somewhere outside of D.C., but officials would not say exactly where, ABC affiliate WJLA-TV reported.

According to WJLA-TV, the DEA said the two men left the group because they did not want to go back to Afghanistan.

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